Sunday, March 11, 2007

At Every Occassion I'll Be Ready For The Funeral

My last post was missing one Bigfoot picture.

My brother said, "The funny thing about the Bigfoot Crossing is that there really is a guy in town that looks like the thing in the picture. We all want to change the sign to say 'Boozer Crossing.'" Because how could the guy that resembles Bigfoot NOT have a name like Boozer?

After I finished taking Bigfoot pictures I went back to the house to take a shower and dress for my aunt's funeral. My brother and I made it to the church exactly in time for the service, where a preacher pretty much just read her obituary. Then he invited everyone to stand up and tell memories of the deceased. It sounds like she was a very strong woman who loved to garden and widdle figures out of wood. I told the one story I had about her: After years and years of not seeing me, she looked me over as a man and said, "So you are Emmett Junior. You were the only one who could ever get away with stealing my french fries."

After the funeral we all went to a luncheon at the local fire station. The parents of a girl I knew in high school talked to me for a long time about whatever. Just because I knew their daughter in high school, I guess. Then I told my parents that it would be shame if I came all this way and stopped short of seeing the ocean by 30 miles. They were already thinking of heading out to the coast so we tried to peel off from the luncheon and go.

While we were outside in the parking lot I got this cool picture of my sister Erika half a second after she got nailed in the chest with a snowball by my sister Sarah. When we got in the van, Erika pointed out that Sarah's skin is getting lighter and lighter, "You're turning white," she said.

There is a tradition of mourning in our tribe. When a bad thing happens you go to a creek or river and "wash up" and then you cut off some hair and burn it in the fire. Then you sit out of dances and ceremonies for a year. After that, the mourning has past and you move on with life.

Before we headed for the ocean my family wanted to stop at the river to wash up. Those snow storms that came through last week really hit the area hard and knocked down trees and created landslides that took out roads. Phones and electricity were out for days. When I was there, large trees laid in the ditches along the highways. We were supposed to spread my aunt's ashes in a field on top of a mountian but the roads were too bad to do it that day. When we tried to go to a campground to wash the road was blocked by fallen trees. I said, "You see, if I lived here I would definitely have a chainsaw and take it with me everywhere I went. When I came across a fallen tree like this, I'd just pull it out and WRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! Then I'd yell at the kids. GET OUT THERE AND LOAD UP THAT WOOD!"

I even mentioned it to my step-mother, "It's strange that in Utah you have to fight hard to keep every blade of grass alive but here, if you don't constantly fight it off, the forest will swallow you up."

We went to a creek where it feeds into the river just below the house where my dad was raised and we washed up. It was funny, it really did feel good to splash the cold water over my face and rub it up and down my arms; Even in comparison to wading in the river that morning.

We were in the car driving and Erika asked Sarah, "Will you speak to me in Hupa? I try to speak in Hupa every day."

Sarah said, "I can't. I can't remember anything."

Erika said, "Just say anything. Anything that comes to mind."

Sarah said, "Nothing is coming to mind."

I suggested, "The rivers will run red with blood..."

Sarah said, "I can't say that!"

Despite that I barely know a word of the language, I said, "You don't know RIVER? You don't know RED? Gee, Sarah, you really are getting whiter and whiter everyday."

Erika thought for a moment, then asked, "What is the Hupa word for DIARREAH? It translates from IT RUNS THROUGH ME."

We couldn't figure it out just then. But we went to my favorite beach in Trinidad. Here I am:

When we ran out on the beach, I picked up a giant piece of kelp and starting swinging it around like a jump rope. I yelled, "Somebody jump in!"

Erika ran over and started jumping. She jumped over it ONE TIME before it came around again and thwacked her in the shin. I think it kind of bummed us out. She wanted a do-over but, before we could, a bunch of copycat losers started swinging there own kelp around and we didn't want any further part in it.

Then we ate dinner at a restaurant on the dock. We made a quick visit to my cousin and her son (I tuned his guitar and played him some Chili Pepper songs) and then decided to call it a night. When we stopped for gas I saw an old friend from high school (Shane M.). He was excited to see me. He was there with a bunch of high school kids (as a teacher's aid/couselor). He said, "We're having a great time. We went to a basketball game and then we went to a really funny movie (Wildhogs) and you were one of the funniest guys I knew in high school."

He said it just like that. It made me laugh. I said, "I think everyone thought you were funnier than I was." And then, just as quickly, he said, "I heard two days ago that our old classmate, Leon V., just died of a drug overdose on the reservation." (I'm sorry for saying that bluntly for anyone who reads this and may have known Leon; that is how I was told, too.) It put a damper on the conversation. I told him that I would be coming through again pretty soon and that I would probably bump into him. He said he would like that.

Even though I had to wake up at 4 am to get to my plane, when we got back to my parents house, I stayed up past midnight watching Sienfeld reruns with my little sisters. Because how often do I get a chance to do that? I'd do it again. It was a full day.

1 comment:

your mother said...

han' is the Trinity River
tse:lnehwa:n is "blood-it resembles"

Closer to home: 'leldin is "where the rivers come together" at the mouth of the South Fork.